One of the important accomplishments of the 2022 Legislature was approving a bonus pay program for the frontline workers who put themselves at extra risk to keep us safe, healthy, and fed during the early days of the pandemic.

Applications for that frontline worker bonus pay program are now open, and will remain open until July 22. I strongly encourage everyone to visit frontlinepay.mn.gov, even if you aren’t sure if you qualify. There you can learn more about eligibility and fill out an application.

A couple of things to note:

Applications will not be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications will be collected during the 45-day window, and the pool of money will be split equally among all approved applicants.

Qualifying job sectors include building services, child care, courts and corrections, emergency responders, food service, ground and air transportation services, health care, long-term care and home care, manufacturing, public health, public transit, retail, schools and higher education, temporary shelters and hotels, and vocational rehabilitation.

The frontline worker bonus program represents a compromise between the House and Senate. Senate Republicans preferred bigger paychecks for those who were at the most risk, instead of the smaller checks for a broader pool that the House wanted. In the end, we found fair middle ground.

Early on in the pandemic we weren’t sure exactly what we were dealing with. These workers continued to show up day in and day out, putting themselves at risk of infection for the benefit of the rest of us. We owe them an immense debt of gratitude.

Missed opportunity

By now you are all intensely familiar with the pain that inflation is causing to family budgets across the state. Gas prices are higher than they have ever been. In Minnesota, gas prices are above $4.75 per gallon as I write this and rising virtually every week. A year ago they were barely more than half that.

Everything is getting more expensive. That’s why Senate Republicans’ No. 1 priority for the legislative session was giving back the state’s record $9 billion surplus to taxpayers in the form of permanent, ongoing tax relief that makes every single one of your paychecks bigger.

You may have heard that this session ended without an agreement on the major issues before us.

But what you might not know is that the House and Senate actually did reach an agreement on a historic tax bill that accomplished exactly what Republicans wanted. It fully and completely eliminated the state’s tax on Social Security benefits and reduced the first tax rate that everybody pays. It provided relief for workers, young families, seniors, and literally every Minnesota taxpayer.

But then the House of Representatives, despite agreeing to the bill, refused to pass it unless we agreed to go along with several of their extreme, radical spending ideas. They held the tax bill hostage and when we refused to cave to all their demands, the session fizzled to an end.

This reality is especially frustrating given how difficult it is for families to afford daily life. The situation does not appear to be easing any time soon. Minnesotans desperately needed that relief, but Democrats in the House and Gov. Walz let them down by refusing to pass a tax bill that would have provided a big boost to family paychecks across Minnesota.


Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault, represents District 24 in the Minnesota Senate. He can be reached at sen.john.jasinski@senate.mn or 651-296-0284.

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